The Art-Therapy-Process (Painting)



There has to be a sense of safety for the Art-Therapy-Process or play to happen. You must be free from judgement!

The Art-Therapy-Process works because the simplicity of merely picking up a paintbrush or crayon can bring up feelings from childhood. Why? because many people have not allowed themselves the freedom to play or engage in any type of art since they were very young.

When abused, it is believed that you are "stunted" emotionally or you stop your emotional growth at that time in your life. When you do begin the Art-Therapy-Process,begin your recovery and pick up a paintbrush and start to paint, don't be surprised if your painting looks like a child's painting if you were abused as a child.

I was first abused at age 12. when I first started recovery through painting, my paintings definitely looked like a 12 y/o painted them or even younger. The more I painted, the more they and I matured.

You can see your art mature through time as you tell your story through pictures or whatever medium you use.

If you paint a person doing something, get the overall feel of the painting. What is the person doing? What do you think she is feeling? Is she looking for something? Does she need something? Where is she? Do you recognize the place? Is it a place that feels safe to you? What colors are you using? (red-anger, etc) This is all part of the Art-Therapy-Process.

It isn't crucial or necessary to figure all of these things out. What IS important is the feelings that you are having while you are painting and how you feel when you have completed your painting. Do you feel sad? angry? depressed? afraid?

Do you feel like you are done for the day..is it something that is upsetting to you and you would rather get back to it later?

Don't be afraid to use all of your colors or all of your canvas. I know that, at first, the canvas can be a little intimidating..but after awhile, you will be slinging paint all over the place!

Set the mood. When I first started the Art-Therapy-Process, I played 70's music in the background. Why? Simply because it was in the 70's when I was abused. I enjoy the music..but it also takes me back to that time and place.

Is there some type of music or sound etc that can help set the tone for you? It also helps to go to your sacred place and meditate or pray prior to your painting session...just to be relaxed and have your mind open.

Pick up the paintbrush. Start by squirting some paints on the palate. Dip your brush in the water and wipe it off on the rag. Dip your brush into a color of paint that speaks to you and begin.

Clear your mind as best you can and just paint. Paint Anything! Just put colors on the canvas. Going through the motions is what is important! You are so brave!

Paint until you feel you are finished for the day. It can take hours. The painting itself does NOT have to be finished.

The painting on this page is one I call "self portrait". I have added to it over the course of 10 years and I am still not sure if it is done yet! What I can say is that it has changed dramatically over the years, as has my recovery!

She began with very dark skin with tears running down her face. Her hair also used to be covering part of her face. I have also added a decoration to her hair. So, you see, your "creation" is something that can be everchanging. It is totally yours!

Starting out by just painting colors all over the canvas can be cathartic as well. It can help you to release some of the emotions kept deep inside of you.

As you paint, keep a notebook at your side to write down the emotions you feel as they occur.

is important to write them down as you are experiencing them. It may have been awhile since you have allowed yourself to feel anything., so any emotion that comes to the surface is important. We will talk about how to release the feelings later.

No matter what image presents itself on your canvas in your Art-Therapy-Process is also important. Some women paint their abuser, which can be quite frightening yet cathartic or cleansing.

Some women also paint body parts, self portraits, or even happy scenic paintings that appear to have nothing to do with their abuse. Don't worry, it all has to do with your abuse. Trust me. Sometimes, we paint what we wish our lives looked like at first.

Remember, emotionally, we truly are like onions, we have so many layers and we have to peel away at them one at a time. We have become experts at hiding our true feelings as a protection.

If you paint your abuser, we will discuss later in the "rituals" section how to destroy the painting, if you wish to, in a healthy way. Let yourself go and let the Art-Therapy-Process take over.

I know that it is scary to let the feelings out. I think the scariest emotions for me were anger, rage and anxiety (panic attacks). I will talk about that later and give you some resources to cope with that as well.

What I did learn was that the FEAR of the emotions was GREATER than experiencing the emotions themselves! Why? Because I found out that I COULD handle them! Unaddressed anger, rage and anxiety can make you SICK and depressed. It is good to get it out in a constructive way. Painting is a helpful start.

Start slinging that paint!!!

I will stay by your side like I promised and continue to support you as you move forward in the Art-Therapy-Process. Remember, the Art-Therapy-Process is just that, a process, and a process takes time. Don't rush yourself. Just paint what you feel.

You are so BRAVE! It takes a lot of courage to be where you are right now! Recovery is not easy...but living in the dark is worse, at least it was for me. If you have come this far, you probably feel the same way.

Facing your demons is better than hiding from them! You CAN do it!! Your sisters have gone before you and done it. Think about my inspiration, Oprah.. she did it, and look where she is now! There are so many of us out here who are just waiting to support you. All you need do is reach out.

Like I mentioned previously, I have written a page on how to release feelings like anger and rage, which were the most difficult emotions for me to deal with. Go to www.soul-expressions-abuse-recovery.com/Abuse-anger.html if you want to see how to release your anger and rage if you are having difficulties with it right now.

If you have a local Mental Health center or Women's Center, call them for further assistance!

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Need a journal to write down feelings? click below.

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30 Day Personal Journaling Guide

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helpful links and Products

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